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Atlanta economy ties to transportation vote, economist says

DULUTH -- In metropolitan Atlanta, one of the regions hardest hit by the recent economic doldrums, the future depends on a proposed sales tax vote slated for July, an economist said Wednesday.

Donald Ratajczak, an economist, gave his annual predictions to the membership of the Council for Quality Growth, a group of businessmen and builders heavily hit by the housing crisis during the past several years.

"We haven't hit bedrock yet," Ratajczak said, pointing to even more problems in metro Atlanta than in the national economy because of dual banking issues.

On top of those job losses, governments have been forced to shrink due to lower revenues, a problem that hasn't occurred in any other recession, he said.

While many are hanging the hope of prosperity on the July transportation sales tax vote, Ratajczak said he and other economists met Tuesday and decided to be very conservative in estimates about its economic effect.

It may not bring a million jobs or fix all of Atlanta's woes, he said. But if voters reject the 10-year, 1-percent tax the region will have little to defend itself when other parts of the country try to draw business away from the area.

"If we don't pass it, the signal is disastrous. It makes us very difficult to attract anybody," he said, adding that while it is hard to put a number on the economic impact, the vote will gauge how serious people are about tackling the region's No. 1 issue. "I'm not going to underestimate the importance of this vote."

Ratajczak said the surprisingly positive beginning to the Christmas season is a positive sign, although middle-class people still need to curb spending based on a 23 percent drop in wealth, mostly from the drop in property values.

While meetings in Europe at the end of this week will determine whether officials "muddle through" the woes caused by Greece and other countries, Ratajczak said Atlanta's future is all about the transportation tax vote.

"What happens in the next two years is very dependent on what happens in July," he said. "If we fail to move on it, we are going to go backward."

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Comments

Karl 2 years, 8 months ago

When Ratajczak was still at GSU, he was more neutral and un-biased in his economic pronouncements. I've heard him speak several times lately and he is now nothing more than a mouthpiece for whoever is paying his speaking fee. He molds his words to fit the desired outcome of the sponsoring group.

Gone are his days of telling it like it is. Take anything he now declares with the proverbial grain of salt.

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Mack711 2 years, 8 months ago

At this time anyting that ends in SPLOST may not have a chance to pass in the near future. As long as the HOT lanes are on I-85 taking our Federal Tax Dollars that came from us and wasting them will not pass. T-SPLOST or any other SPLOST for that matter.Many here inGwinnett and other places in Georgia do not trust Local officials to do what the citizens want.

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Karl 2 years, 8 months ago

Hey Mack711, you must not keep up with local happenings very much. The education SPLOST in Gwinnett, and in every other metro county which it was on the ballot, passed about one month ago. I think your prognostication is way off, even with the advantage of the outcome of the vote being known for more than 30 days.

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Mack711 2 years, 8 months ago

Correct on the E SPLOST and did not vote for that either.In additon it only passed by a small margin of voters think it was less than 15%. That is not many of the registered voters turning out for this election. My point is that the funds for T-SPLOST should not pass as long as we have HOT lanes.. Thanks

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ConnectGwinnett 2 years, 8 months ago

Clearly we've had our problems with local elected officials in Gwinnett. However, voting is the best way to make your voice heard. Make sure you vote in July and sign up with Connect Gwinnett to get updates and news on the Transportation Investment Act. You can find us on Facebook and at our upcoming blog on patch.com.

85% of the revenue collected (if the TIA is passed) will fund the established project list. However, the remaining 15% will fund local projects that are yet to be determined. Influence that list by taking Connect Gwinnett's survey at www.surveymonkey.com/connectgwinnett. The results will be sent to local officials so they have a better understanding of what their constituents want in their communities.

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huskypals 2 years, 8 months ago

As long as the HOT lanes are there T-SPLOST has no chance. Once they see the polls and realize it, they will finally find a way to get rid of them. If they don't no more extra taxes for transportation.

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citized 2 years, 8 months ago

Let's not forget the tolls that wre supposed to "go away"

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jack 2 years, 8 months ago

The folks that voted for E-SPLOST to keep their property taxes low, only to see Wilbanks and friends at the Capital moaning they didn't have enough funding (and we all know where that will lead), are the same folks who will vote for T-SPLOST, probably to keep the tolls on the HOT lanes low. Researchers are making no headway in discovering a cure for stupidity.

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CD 2 years, 8 months ago

I've always had a great deal of respect for Ratajczak, especially sitting in front of him as a student every Tuesday/Thursday for 2.5 hours without a break. He would speak the entire time, citing reams of facts and figures without notes. He is an impressive guy.

I was not there to hear the entire presentation in context, but I do believe the RIGHT mix of transportation projects is important; however, I'm not sure we have the right mix. And, too, we're trusting those that gave us HOT lanes and those that grabbed land for personal investment against the taxpayer as the outer perimeter idea was being developed years ago (history is important to remember," Cleanupguy" or whatever).

Right now, I'm at a point of voting no when the time comes. The Republican delegation of gluttonous heathens has it work cut out to convince the voters.

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